Currency Convertibility: The Gold Standard and Beyond

By Jorge Braga De Macedo; Barry Eichengreen et al. | Go to book overview
Save to active project



Barry Eichengreen and Marc Flandreau


The gold standard is a subject that has garnered much attention, but its geography remains strangely uncharted. Monetary systems in which gold coin and assets convertible into gold provided the basis for the domestic circulation are commonly portrayed as the normal state of affairs prior to 1913. England, in this view, was on the gold standard for two centuries, ever since Sir Isaac Newton, in his role as Master of the Mint, set a high silver price for the gold guinea in 1717, driving full-bodied silver coins out of circulation. Portugal, which relied heavily on the British market for exports and on British industry for imported manufactures, adopted gold in 1854. Germany's accession to the gold standard dated from her Bismarckian unification. In conventional accounts, virtually the entire world was on some form of gold standard during the final part of the nineteenth century.

These 'conventional accounts' serve us, admittedly, in the capacity of straw men. Scholars like Bloomfield (1959) have been careful to note that not all gold standards were alike, distinguishing gold coin standards from gold bullion standards, coin and bullion standards from gold-exchange standards, and full gold standards from limping gold standards. But by focusing on the experience of Western Europe and North America, most of their studies run the risk of distorting the geography of the monetary system and hence of misrepresenting its evolution. 1

A better rounded portrait reveals a situation in which gold was the basis for the domestic circulation in only a limited number of countries. In many places, especially outside Europe, gold convertibility was first established only in the final years preceding World War I. Fathoming the operation of the international monetary system thus requires comprehending how it worked prior to the completion of these transitions. Tracing its evolution requires understanding the timing and nature of these monetary regime transformations.

Some studies have acknowledged the limited domain of the nineteenth century gold standard, emphasizing the distinction between gold and silver convertibility. Gold, it is said, was the basis for the circulation in advanced


Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this page

Cited page

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Currency Convertibility: The Gold Standard and Beyond


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 273

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?